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'The percentage of single parent families has increased in the last decade as a result of an increasing divorce rate and changing social attitudes'

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Introduction

'The percentage of single parent families has increased in the last decade as a result of an increasing divorce rate and changing social attitudes' Investigate the social and economic consequences of this development Introduction The dictionary definition1 of 'family' is 1. Group of parents and their children 2. One's spouse and children 3. One's children 4. Group descended from a common ancestor 5. Group of related objects or beings The 'ideal' type of family for a modern society is the nuclear family comprising a breadwinner husband and dependent wife and children.2 All families are subject to constant change and fluidity, "Family members grow older and move in and out of different households, though death, birth, marriage, divorce or simply leaving home."3 Argument - Social There are an estimated 1.75million one-parent families in Britain4, which is nearly a quarter of all families. Ninety per cent of lone parents are women and more than half of one-parent families live below the poverty line. The responsibility of any family is for the children. On average one-parent families are smaller than 2 parent families5 mainly due to breakdown of relationships. Single mothers have smaller families with an average of 1.56 children. Figures published recently estimate that almost 2.9million (26%) of children under 19 live in a one-parent family6 Controversy surrounds the issue of how children are affected by breakdowns of their parents' relationships. ...read more.

Middle

The underprivileged education can be due to the school itself. The lower education can lead to a low paid job, leading to the need for benefits. Sociologists believe that people on Income Support are looked down on by their peers. Economic Over half of British one-parent families were receiving Income Support in February 2001. Over a third were claiming Working Families' Tax Credit (WFTC)12. These are both means-tested payments, which are withdrawn as income increases and therefore have the risk of unemployment and poverty. Benefits increase but still fall short of meeting the needs of children on one-parent families by as much as �5.95 a week13. Single parents under the age of 18 receive a lower rate of benefit and therefore are in a worse situation. Also, there is no help with mortgage costs for parents working more than 16 hours a week. Recent government policies have emphasised paid work as the route out of poverty for lone parents. The incidence of poverty is closely associated with having no paid work. The London School of Economics claims that a fifth of the increase in child poverty is linked to parents having no paid work (30% in 1968 to 58% in 1995/6)14. Occasionally, one-parent families exist with no wage earner at all and this is true of 1999/00 when 95% of children were living in poverty. ...read more.

Conclusion

This is all possibly due to lack of stability, as employment is difficult for single mothers with young children therefore they can afford only to live in underprivileged areas of towns and cities. Such areas can only provide a lower standard of education, which can lead to a lower paid job. All of these aspects just become a cycle as less and less can be done to support one-parent families. However, more recently, one-parent families have formed out of choice. More women have chosen to become lone parents, as have men. So there may be an increase in one-parent families but not all are disadvantaged. Divorce rate may have increased but marriage rates have decreased which must mean that there must be a gain in respect for the sanctity of marriage. As a result, we could see a decrease in one-parent families or if not, more better off one-parent families. Bibliography Books * Collins Dictionary, "family" * "Sociology in Action: Investigating Families and Households" By Nik Jorgensen, chapter 2 * "Divorce & Separation: The Outcomes for Children" By B Rodgers & J Pryor (1998) * "Child Development and Family income", By P Gregg, S Harkness, S Machin (1999) * "Sociology for A-Level" By Tony Lewison Case Papers * "Low-income Families in Britain" By M Marsh, S McKay, A Smith, A Stephenson (2001) * "The Divorced and Who Divorces?" By K Kiernan & G Mueller (1998) Case Paper 7, London School of Economics Websites * http://www.oneparentfamilies.org.uk/ * http://www.statistics.gov.uk/ * http://www.inlandrevenue.gov. ...read more.

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